Dear New Yorkers,

New Yorkers who rely on wheelchairs to get around told THE CITY they often steer clear of MTA express buses — for fear of being unable to board or exit.

That’s due to faulty hydraulic lifts, or drivers unclear on how to operate them.

Since March, 78-year-old Jean Ryan says she has twice needed firefighters to carry her 400-pound motorized wheelchair off of express buses at stops near her Brooklyn home because of mechanical or operator issues.

“I never know if I’m going to get on or how long it will take,” Ryan told THE CITY. “And I never know if I’m going to get off, or how.”

But transit officials said fewer than 5% of calls about mechanical issues on buses are about express bus lifts.

“New Yorkers with disabilities are getting around,” Quemuel Arroyo, the MTA’s chief accessibility officer, told THE CITY. “Our assets are being utilized.”

Still, Alex Elegudin, himself a former accessibility chief at the agency, said he has been stuck on express bus lifts “a couple of times.”

“It’s a little awkward to say the least,” he said.

Weather scoop by New York Metro Weather

Monday’s Weather Rating: 6/10. Oh, it’s chilly out there this morning! High temperatures today will only reach into the mid 40s, but we will have plenty of sunshine. A cold northwest breeze keeps us in check throughout the day. The vibes are a bit frosty out there!

Our Other Top Stories

  • Southern Brooklyn Councilmember Inna Vernikov is going to be cleared of an illegal gun charge, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office told THE CITY on Friday. Photos from last month appeared to show the Republican with a gun on her waist at a counter-protest against pro-Palestinian college students. A New York law, passed last year, prohibits the possession of firearms at “sensitive locations,” including protests, even for licensed gun holders like Vernikov. But state case law holds that for prosecutors to prove a possession charge, the firearm must be operable. And when the NYPD inspected the firearm a few weeks later, they found it was missing a key part — the recoil spring assembly — rendering it unusable.
  • Last week, multiple members of the city’s jail oversight board urged Mayor Eric Adams to stop relying on emergency executive orders to circumvent rules to ensure the safe housing of people behind bars. In November 2021, then-mayor Bill de Blasio first signed executive orders suspending multiple Board of Correction regulations, citing chaos brought on by the COVID pandemic. Adams has since extended the emergency orders every five days — even as the pandemic urgency faded.

Reporter’s Notebook

Jails Agency Finally Rolls Out Missing Funds Portal

Following years of complaints from incarcerated New Yorkers and their advocates, the city Department of Correction on Friday launched a new website where formerly jailed people can reclaim money left in their cafeteria accounts.

In August, THE CITY reported that former detainees at Rikers Island and other city lockups had left a total of $4.2 million in commissary funds waiting to be claimed — a figure on the rise despite new legislation requiring jail officials to do more to refund the money.

“Our goal is to ensure that individuals leaving our custody can easily access their unused funds which will help them reintegrate back into their communities,” said DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina said in a statement Friday. “This new process will allow justice involved individuals to inquire about and retrieve their leftover balances more efficiently.”

— Hasani Gittens

Things To Do

Here’s what’s going on around the city this week.

  • Monday, Nov. 20: The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show opened over the weekend, as part of an array of winter festivities. Free with admission through Jan. 15 at the New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx.
  • Monday, Nov. 20: Only two weeks left to see Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, an exhibition that “explores the impact of the U.S. prison system on contemporary visual art.” Free at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center in Harlem, through Dec. 4.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 22: The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation event. Free from 12-6 p.m. on the Upper West Side (the entrance to the viewing area is at W. 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue).

THE KICKER: For readers looking for a special night on the town, join THE CITY and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Dec. 4 for a special fundraising event to support our newsroom. To our generous superfans: Tickets start at $250, and can be purchased here

Thanks, as always, for reading. Make it a great Monday.



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